New Delhi: In a party confronted with a credibility crisis of its leadership, Rahul Gandhi’s resignation offer has turned the focus away from the Congress’ repeated electoral routs, to the primacy and relevance of the Nehru-Gandhi family.
With the Congress president said to be adamant on resigning, the old, familiar show of flattery and obeisance to the party’s first family is unfolding, with state units passing resolutions and party members holding a hunger strike to dissuade Gandhi from resigning.
On Wednesday, a group of 20-odd Congress workers braved the Delhi summer as they sat on an indefinite hunger strike outside Gandhi’s Tughlaq Road residence, asking him not to step down as the party chief. The group was detained by police and released after an hour but that did not stop them from gathering again at the same spot.
“We all are pained at the news of Congress chief deciding to step down so we all wanted to persuade him,” said Vijay Jatan, a delegate of the Delhi Congress Pradesh Committee. “We are sure because of our hunger strike he will do a rethink,” Jatan added.
“Karyakartao ki zidd ke aage Rahul Gandhi ko apna decision badalna padega (Rahul Gandhi will have to change his decision at the behest of Congress workers).”
They were later followed by the president of Delhi Congress Committee, Sheila Dikshit, and other Delhi unit leaders such as Rajesh Lilothia, Jagdish Tytler and boxer Vijender Singh among others who all protested outside Gandhi’s residence.
“Rahul tum sangharsh karo, hum tumhare saath hai (Rahul you fight on, we are behind you),” was among the slogans that were chanted at the protest venue.
Apart from this, demonstrations have been started by a number of state units, including the Karnataka Congress whose leaders protested outside the party’s Bengaluru office. The Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan state units of the party are to pass a resolution Wednesday appealing to the party chief not to resign.
Manmohan, Tharoor names being discussed
Gandhi had offered to step down during a meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) — the highest decision-making body of the party — Saturday. According to sources, Gandhi, taking full moral responsibility for the loss, had told senior leaders to look for his replacement.
Since Saturday a number of senior leaders have met Gandhi to persuade him to rethink on his decision but he has so far not made any public appearance.
According to sources, the stalemate will continue till July at least and in the meantime, the party leadership will have to look for a new face. “It will be a long summer as this matter won’t get sorted in a few days time,” said a source. “Everyone is trying hard to persuade him.”
According to a senior leader, finding an alternative is going to be tough as the new leader may not be acceptable to all. “The party wants him to continue as the president but if he doesn’t budge, we will have to look for an alternative. Some have suggested former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s name too but his health and age might come in the way,” the senior leader said.
“Some have also pointed out that he is not a mass leader and may not be able to hold the party together. Few leaders have been meeting him too, though the meetings were about the current situation and not about him being the party president,” the leader added.
Another senior leader said if the Congress president decides not to continue as the party president, he may take up the job of leader of the opposition to take on the BJP government. In case that doesn’t materialise, however, name of senior Congress leader Shashi Tharoor is also being considered.
- The copy has been updated to incorporate the events that followed the arrival of Sheila Dikshit and other Congress leaders.